Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Stauskas Trade, Or The Sixers Actually Might Have Stopped Tanking

Hello, Actual Possible Asset
Tonight, my basketball laundry finally made a trade with an eye toward making the product on the floor better in the here and now, rather than in the later and much later. By agreeing to send over some overseas assets – AKA, any name that is not Dario Saric, since he is pretty much the only overseas asset that matters – and taking on salary, they will receive Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson and Carl Landry from the Kings. It’s a $25 million salary dump for the NoCal franchise, who are said to be making a run at some big name free agent guards (Rajon Rondo, hoo boy, Monta Ellis, better, or Wes Matthews, meh).

We will dispense with the flotsam first. Landry has been a reasonable scorer over the years for the Pelicans and Warriors, but he is 32, weak on defense, and not someone who will do much for this club, assuming he does not have Big Man Mentor Powers. Jason Thompson is a thuggy younger big who can be a reasonable effort guy, but at 29, he’s just a guy, more or less the more established version of the Thomas Robinson play that they filled their dog days with late last season. Both of these guys are better than Henry Sims, but there is a reasonable chance that I am better than Henry Sims, and the NBA player that I most closely resemble is Muggsy Bogues. Today’s Muggsy, to make matters worse.

Which leaves this entirely in the realm of Stauskas. Last year’s first round pick was regarded, back in the run up to last year’s draft, as a deadeye shooter with true three point range and an NBA-ready release. The fact that he shot 36.5% from the floor last year, 32% from the arc (with half of his shots from there), and only got 15 minutes per game of burn for a team that was going absolutely nowhere…

Well, that either speaks to the idea that Stauskas is another in a long line of shoot-only duds, or – just maybe – that he had a rough rookie year as a 22-year-old in what might have been the worst coaching situation in the NBA. The Sixers are clearly banking on the latter, and using their contract cap advantages in the only way they can right now, since no free agent in their right mind will come to town until it’s very clear that the revolving door and tanking is over.

I have actually seen Stauskas play in person – business trip to Ann Arbor with a game thrown in – and he has some gifts. A nose for the ball, reasonable defensive instincts, some handle. He did not look out of place at all on a Michigan team with multiple fringe NBA guys, and if Sixers coach Brett Brown can get useful minutes and shooting out of guys like Robert Covington, Jerami Grant and and Luc Mbah a Moute…well, a guy who was actually coveted, and a lottery pick not so very long ago, might be more than that.

My hope is that they are not done yet, in that Stauskas is not a point guard, and the roster really only has a PG2 and PG3 (Ish Smith and Isiah Canaan) on the roster. If this also means a whole lot less Hollis Thompson and Jakarr Sampson in our lives, that is so much the better, in that neither of those guys should be playing basketball in the First World. (I don't mean to be cruel. They do try hard. But there are a lot of guys who will try hard who do not play well enough to be in the NBA. The less of them you see in your laundry, the better.)

But the most encouraging thing isn’t the guys they got tonight.

It is that they got someone at all.

With the promise that they might get, well, more…

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